The key to getting a resisting arrest charge dropped in Florida is first to understand the law and, second, to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. On its own, a resisting arrest charge could land you behind bars for several months. Charged along with other offenses, it can compound the potential penalties.
What Is Resisting Arrest in Florida?
In Florida, resisting an officer is any obstruction of a law enforcement officer during the execution of a legal duty, including an arrest.
Under Florida law, two types of resisting arrest exist: with or without violence. When most people hear “resisting arrest,” they conjure an image of a suspect wrestling with police. But this is not always the case; you may be charged even if no physical interaction happens.
In Florida, resisting an officer without violence is a first-degree misdemeanor. A conviction is punishable by up to one year in jail, one year of probation, and up to $1,000 in fines.
Resisting arrest with violence is any willful and violent act obstructing law enforcement in their legal duties. In Florida, it is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and up to $5,000 in fines.
Examples of Resisting
Many scenarios might constitute resisting under the law. Some common examples include:
- Walking or running away from the officer,
- Not obeying law enforcement’s verbal commands,
- Refusing to be handcuffed,
- Giving false or misleading information,
- Concealing evidence,
- Refusing to leave an area when required,
- Tensing up while being handcuffed,
- Evading police, and
- Interfering with an active police investigation.
The best advice we can give to avoid these charges is to cooperate with law enforcement to the best of your ability whenever possible. Remain silent, but remain cooperative and calm. Know that, regardless of how wrong or baseless the accusation is, resisting will only make matters worse. Even if you get arrested, you can hire a lawyer to challenge the arrest later.
Impact of a Resisting Arrest Charge
Resisting arrest charges often accompany charges for an underlying offense. In other words, resisting arrest will be charged on top of other offenses, such as DUI, drug crimes, violent crimes, etc. Although generally charged alongside other violations, there is no requirement, and it can stand as an independent charge.
Can a Resisting Arrest Charge Be Dropped?
One of the number one questions we get asked by clients facing a resisting arrest charge is whether it can be dropped, and the answer is yes. An experienced criminal defense attorney will review your case, listen to your story, and examine all evidence to determine possible defenses to these charges. If there is strong enough evidence to support an outright dismissal, your attorney will push the State to drop the charge altogether.
What Must the State Prove?
Like any other criminal offense, the State must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Specifically, they must prove the following:
- You resisted a police officer by obstructing them from performing their duty,
- The police officer was executing a legal action or responsibility at the time,
- The officer was legally authorized to effectuate this process, and
- You knew they were law enforcement and knowingly resisted or obstructed.
If the prosecutor is unable to prove these four elements, you may be able to get the charges dropped or, at the very least, reduced.
Evidence Used to Support a Dismissal
Sometimes in resisting arrest cases, the prevalence of video and other media can be helpful to the defense. Several common forms of evidence that may help a defendant beat a resisting arrest charge include:
- Surveillance footage from surrounding buildings,
- Bodycam and dashcam video,
- Eyewitness testimony,
- Law enforcement reports and testimony, and
- Cellphone or other bystander videos.
A skilled defense attorney will review this evidence to see if it can be used as a defense to the charge.
Defenses to Resisting Arrest
A resisting arrest charge can be harmful to your life and reputation. However, being charged does not mean you will be convicted. There are defenses.
Police Officer Fails to Identify Themselves
If the police officer fails to identify themself before executing the arrest, a defendant may not reasonably be expected to know they are law enforcement. In other words, to be guilty of resisting arrest, the defendant must know the individual they are resisting is law enforcement. An example scenario would be when plain-clothed or undercover officers attempt to effectuate an arrest.
You might have a defense to a resisting arrest charge if you were forced to protect yourself from excessive force. Police officers are prohibited from using excessive force during an arrest. If evidence (e.g., bodycam video) shows the cops were using excessive force to place you under arrest, you may argue to get the charges dropped. You might even have grounds for a civil lawsuit.
Lack of Evidence
Generally, the police officer’s word alone is insufficient to sustain a resisting arrest charge. There must be other evidence to support the allegation. The lack of corroborating evidence such as surveillance video, dashcam or bodycam footage, or eyewitness testimony might be grounds for dismissal.
You also have the right to face your accuser, which in this case is the arresting officer. You can argue for a dismissal if the officer fails to appear in court.
Your best chance of having a resisting arrest charge dropped is to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney. Even if you are still facing other charges, dropping the resisting arrest charge could lessen potential jail time, fines, and other consequences.
Need Help Getting Your Resisting Arrest Charge Dropped?
If you were recently charged with resisting arrest in Orlando, Florida, you have probably been wondering, How to get a resisting arrest charge dropped? Hiring the right attorney is the best way to get the charge dropped. The right criminal defense attorney can be the difference between a conviction, acquittal, or outright dismissal.
At Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law, we are former prosecutors. This provides us with unique experience and insight into what it takes for the State to prove a resisting arrest charge—and we use that insight to provide you with the best possible defense. Contact us 24/7 to set up an interview where we can discuss your case.